The neo-Nazi wing of the Alt Right is planning for a small-town Kristallnacht in 2017.
How did we get here? It all derives from a privileged racist who wanted to ski in the most pristine part of the U.S. When enigmatic Alt Right founder Richard Spencer took over the National Policy Institute in 2010, he took the non-profit and reestablished it in the town of Whitefish, Montana. Whitefish, set in the gorgeous Flathead Valley, is a resort town in the shade of Glacier National Park and a number of high-priced, private ski resorts. His parents, who lived and worked in Dallas, Texas, made Whitefish their vacation home given their love for the slaloms. Richard’s father, a well-paid conservative Othmamologist and his mother, a Ron Paul supporter who did GOP fundraisers, did not want to make their presence in Whitefish a political one.
And neither did Richard. Instead, he wanted to live in their $3 million dollar home and use their properties, one that his mother, Sherry Spencer, had purchased to make money renting to retail businesses and vacationers booking through Air BnB. Richard moved his new wife, the Russian photographer and Third Positionist Nina Kouprianova, and started his life in Whitefish. He rented an apartment in Arlington, Virginia for when he needed to do his conferences and network in Washington D.C., and the rest of the time he used a home office to write, edit his books, create podcasts, and so on. Only more recently did he rent out the office space in a strip mall in Whitefish, which likely lends to the complications that started to happen as his wife left him and things became strained with his parents.
Whitefish has not welcomed Richard, to say the least. After Richard harassed a GOP consultant on a chairlift at the expensive ski resort they are both members at, people in town finally had to reckon with the fact that one of the most well funded and loudest white nationalists in the country was sharing their supermarket. Later that year Spencer was banned from entering Hungary by Viktor Orban himself after he had organized a “pan-European” fascist conference with the support of the nationalist party Jobbik and featuring Russian New Rightist and Euraisianist Aleksandr Dugin. Spencer was detained and deported and the conference ended up being a failure, and when he was banned from entering the EU it was a low point for his movement (he was later banned from entering the UK as well).
When Spencer returned, the people of Whitefish had begun to organize with the local anti-racist/anti-fascist organization Love Lives Here, a member organization of the incredible Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN). The MHRN has been a leader of progressive organizing in rural parts of the country, especially by confronting the rise of the Patriot militias and those from the Northwest Imperative of the white nationalist movement who see the “Whitetopia” of Montana as a future “white homeland.” Love Lives Here organized to pass a resolution to stop white nationalist organizations from having conferences and essential operations in Whitefish, which ended up being curtailed in favor of a broader city council declaration of a commitment to diversity.
As Spencer began to gain a huge amount of celebrity in the wave of Trump and the Alt Right that defined 2016, Whitefish became increasingly uncomfortable with their most famous resident. They especially did not like that Sherry Spencer, who was becoming a wealthy property owner and businesswoman in the town, aided and abetted her son by giving him use of her properties (they shared an address at one point). While she said that she didn’t agree with his politics, she became the most essential piece in the Alt Right, allowing Spencer to grow the movement without being forced to think about finances.
Love Lives Here began to push the issue with Sherry Spencer, stating that people in town did not appreciate her allowance of her son’s genocidal racist ideas. After the Atlantic video came forward showing Richard Spencer yelling “Hail Trump, Hail Our People, Hail Victory” and many NPI conference goers doing Roman Salutes, the town had enough. Sherry Spencer’s ownership of a new building at 22 Lupfer Avenue is what especially caused the controversy, and Tanya Gersh specifically helped to raise the profile of Sherry as profiting off of the town while giving support to her son’s organization. According to the Virginia’s state corporation commission, her property is still listed as the primary headquarters for the National Policy Institute.
People stopped wanting to do business with her and potential customers were let know about her connections, with Air BnB renters canceling their appointments. Sherry, facing the financial blowback, began considering selling the property, but then railed against Gersh and Love Lives Here saying that she was being extorted into selling the property. This only comes from the fact Gersh said she would list the property if Sherry wanted her to, and suggested she give a donation to the MHRN as a show of good faith. Sherry put together a Medium.com post that outlined her side of the story, yet was mainly blanketing anti-racist groups and activists like Gersh as haters.
While Sherry battled with the community, the Alt Right took things to another level. Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer made Sherry’s situation his new pet cause, and did post upon post about the town, the people in it, and the anti-racist organizations. He then put in the information of local business owners and residents, including young children, putting the yellow Star of David with “Jude” in the middle on top of them, referencing the star that Jews were forced to wear as they were rushed to their death in cattle cars. Alt Right “shitlords” on social media began harassing the Jewish and other residents of Whitefish, calling in, spamming their businesses on Yelp, and creating such a climate of fear in which many were scared for their lives. It became so bad that town council people like Frank Sweeney spoke out against it, which was a strong move since Sweeney had consulted with the Southern Poverty Law Center back in 2014 about how to address the situation with Spencer during the first round. Later, even the Governor spoke out and had planned a visit to Whitefish to show support.
Love Lives Here began a broad-based solidarity project, where they arranged the handouts of “Menorah” cards so that people could put them in their window to show solidarity with the Jewish residents who were the victims of the vicious harassment. This show of support is one that unites the community softly; hoping to secure those bonds if the organization is to do even more involved organizing. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes also joined the admonishment of bigotry, and the entire state has come together in opposition to the Alt Right trolls who are trying to terrorize marginalized groups. This is what effective solidarity organizing looks like as it creates one community in opposition to the divisive nature of the far right, and it meant hat the Alt Right will have dramatically less pull in the state and the media.
The Daily Stormer then began a call to organize a march in Whitefish, one that is specifically meant to target the Jews of the city and calling them the financial and organizational infrastructure. This hails back to the Kristallnacht tragedy in Germany when the SS went and ransacked Jewish businesses, ramping up the cultural pogrom against Jews and blaming them nonsensically for the financial turmoil of the German country since the First World War. While this may seem extreme even for Anglin, he has made a name for the Daily Stormer by naming Trump opponents to kill and trying to get followers to create fake “black” accounts on Twitter to defame people of African origin.
Anglin’s march “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either” is set to happen on January 15th. Because of Montana’s liberal gun laws, they planned this to be an “armed march” to intimidate locals Jews and progressives, and he is planning to “bus in” skinheads from the Bay Area. This includes Goldenstate Skinheads (Goldenstate United), who were involved in the recent stabbing in Sacramento as well as in the early organizing of the American Freedom Party. This will also include members of the Traditionalist Workers Party, or its adjunct community organization the Traditionalist Youth Network, which often bridges the Blue Collar world of the KKK and skinheads with the Alt Right. This could also include members of Identity Europa, which has a heavy presence in the Bay Area of California.
In opposition, Love Lives Here and anti-racist are planning a January 7th celebration in favor of diversity, again rallying the community together with food, speakers, and music to create unity that will be necessary to combat the onslaught. While Andrew Anglin seems particularly set on bringing 200 armed racists to Whitefish to intimidate locals and possibly instigate bloody vengeance, Richard Spencer is actually saying that Anglin is just joking and that there will be no march.
All of this is bad news for Richard Spencer who has intimated recently that he might run for congress in Montana. As Love Lives Here and the MHRN is rally the community behind anti-racist values, it is unlikely that the majority of Montana is going to get behind armed neo-Nazis attacking Jews and Spencer’s insane bid for Washington. For anti-racists that want to support, it would be good to send money and make contact with Love Lives Here and stay prepared to hear news if the march actually takes place, and you can join in the organizing of counter-protest events.
In a master move, Love Lives Here is doing a fundraiser where you can donate a certain amount for every minute that the Nazis protest, so the longer they are there, the more money anti-hate groups will make. You can commit to donate here.